Sustainability is no longer a matter of preference for businesses across the world. As a result of fast-evolving consumer behaviours and the everchanging government legislations, playing a part in protecting our planet has become a major necessity for those looking to increase their commercial capability.
While the main cause for concern focuses on the state of our planet, introducing sustainable solutions can benefit your organisation in a number of ways. From lower transport and waste expenses, through to attracting new customers and greater employee satisfaction, sustainable packaging cannot be overlooked.
However, within this global push towards a more sustainable future, there is unfortunately a darker side to it all – and this is described as Greenwashing. As companies aim to profit from this evident trend, some consumers are being misled into buying products that are not actually as ‘green’ as they’ve been made out to be.
So, to help you stay clear of greenwashing consumers mistakenly, here are key features focus on when creating your sustainable packaging solution.
1. Sustainable packaging takes into account the 3 pillars of sustainability
When referring to sustainable packaging, we often divide the key elements into three pillars. These are preservation, reduction, and circularity. A product that is truly sustainable will fall into each of these pillars without question. So, let’s explore what they mean in further detail.
The first pillar refers to any packaging material that helps to conserve the environment. This eliminates the need for any materials that leek harmful substances into the environment upon disposal.
A great example of packaging that ticks the preservation box would be where renewable resources are used. In this case, as an alternative to traditional plastic wrap, honeycomb paper wrap is designed as a natural, nontoxic solution that can be easily recycled after use.
Pillar number two is fairly self-explanatory. By reducing the volume of packaging materials that are responsible for the protection of a specific product, you can cut down on waste - a clear advantage for the environment. This also helps to minimise package weight, which in turn reduces emissions where delivery is concerned.
To achieve an efficient reduction in packaging material usage, without hindering its protection, custom-fit boxes are worth exploring. They help to minimise the use of voidfill and rely on a snug fit with custom inserts to prevent damage.
Circularity involves the use of recycled and reusable products to help close the loop on unsustainable material usage. This points towards using packaging products that can be widely recycled to be used over, as well as packaging that can be reused or turned into something practical for a greater return on the sourced materials.
2. Sustainable packaging must be responsibly sourced
The origin of the materials used to package your products is equally as important as the material itself. Whilst paper-based products are derived from natural sources, they should be responsibly sourced to provide maximum sustainability for both your business and consumers.
But “all paper comes from cutting down trees, right?”. Correct, however that doesn’t mean all paper products contribute to deforestation. When sourcing paper-based packaging products that are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, you can be sure that they are truly sustainable.
Look out for this symbol when purchasing your paper-based packaging!
3. Consider end-of-life for any packaging
For packaging to be completely sustainable, it must be sustainable from the start to the end of its life. There’s no good choosing a sustainably sourced product if it cannot be disposed of following the same eco-friendly principles. Ideally a circular packaging solution should be used where the packaging can be re-used. If that is not an option, consider recyclability or biodegradability.
Essentially, packaging closes the loop on the packaging’s lifecycle will help restore balance to the environment. This is because closing the loop significantly reduces any leakage into the environment.
As a Certified B-Corporation, we care about the environment. At Swiftpak, we are continuously reducing our environmental impact as much as possible whilst also helping our customers do the same. Offering a variety of sustainable packaging solutions, we help businesses reach their sustainability targets through packaging. For expert advice on the best options for you, get in touch with our team today.
4. Sustainable packaging should be transported efficiently
Sustainability improvements can also be made by optimising pallet and pack-to-product ratios. This means that all the available space is used efficiently when loading vehicles for transport, resulting in fewer trips needed and therefore a reduction in CO2 emissions for your business.
To optimise your sustainable packaging solution, you must evaluate your distribution system as well as the design of your package. Start by cutting down on excess space in your packaging to minimise the shipping of unnecessary bulky loads.
Focus on reducing material usage where possible but be sure to do so without effecting the integrity and protection of your solution. Whilst sustainability is the goal here, the main purpose of your packaging mustn’t be forgotten.
The important point to remember here is that sustainability does not stop at the sourcing and disposing of the material itself. How you handle transportation contributes to the sustainability of your packaging solution too.
Sustainable packaging solutions from the experts
At Swiftpak, we source responsibly and are committed to helping maintain the health of our environment. We offer an extensive range of sustainable packaging products and provide insight through automatically generated waste reports for each of our customers.
But we don’t stop there. In our mission to maintain the health of our environment, our free, no obligation packaging audit is designed to help companies become more sustainable. For more information on how we can help, claim your free audit today or speak to one of our packaging experts.